Eight Bells

As a youngster, “eight bells” meant the end of the day – my mother’s way of saying, “time to head to bed.” As a nautical term, “eight bells,” poignantly, means that a sailor has died; that his or her watch was over.

And so on the 27th of July, I have no doubt that “eight bells” sounded around the world, signalling that Larry Pardey had passed on.

Larry Pardey was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1939, and quickly turned his attention to the sea and sailing. In his early 20s, he moved to Southern California, as the publication “Cruising World” noted, “in search of ocean-going adventures.” The “Cruising World” obituary went on to describe Larry as, “one of the greatest all-around sailors of all time, in any era. He was a consummate seaman, a precise navigator, a peerless boatbuilder. He was also a mentor and friend to countless cruisers and sailors he met along his eventful life’s journey.”

Superimposed upon Larry’s prowess as a boatbuilder and sailor, is a love story. Larry Pardey met Lin Zatkin in a bar in 1965. Three days later they were inseparable – for life. Three years on, they married, and just three days after their nuptials (always loved that term), they launched their first sailboat, the “Seraffyn” – wooden, engineless, and self-built.

For the next 11 years the Pardeys sailed the 24 foot Seraffyn around the planet, visiting 15 countries, making friends wherever they anchored.
Returning to California, they built the 29 foot “Taleisin,” again a wooden, engineless, masterpiece of a sailboat (Larry, at work on the “Taleisin” below, in a photo taken by his wife Lin). Lin and Larry put the “Taleisin” to sea in 1984.

They circumnavigated the globe once more; a journey that included some dicey hours making their way around Cape Horn. Again they took their time – almost two decades – financing their travel through writings (several books), lectures and boat repairs.

Eventually, Lin and Larry settled on Kawau Island, off the coast of New Zealand, just 25 miles from Auckland. Larry set up a boat repair business he named Mickey Mouse Marine – “a 3-M Company.”

In recent years, Parkinson’s disease took its toll on Larry, and dementia set in. He passed away following a stroke. Larry, captured in this photo by Lin, was 81 when he died; the end of a very eventful life’s journey.